Christy, Howard Chandler

Howard Chandler Christy (10 January 1872 – 3 March 1952) was an American artist and illustrator. Famous for the “Christy Girl” – a colorful and illustrious successor to the “Gibson Girl” – Christy is also widely known for his iconic WWI military recruitment and Liberty Loan posters, along with his 1940 masterpiece titled, Scene at the Signing of the Constitution of the United States, which hangs in the United States Capitol.

Christy was elected to The Lambs in 1934. He painted numerous works for the Club, many of which were nudes for the annual Gambol program covers. Today his art is part of The Lambs’ Foundation collection in the clubhouse.

From the 1920s until the early 1950s, Christy was active as a portrait painter whose sitters included presidents, senators, industrialists, movies stars, and socialites. He painted Lt. Col. Theodore Roosevelt, and Presidents Warren G. Harding, Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and Harry Truman. Other famous people he painted include William Randolph Hearst, the Prince of Wales (Edward VIII), Eddie Rickenbacker, Benito Mussolini, Prince Umberto, and Amelia Earhart. By 1938, Time proclaimed Christy “the most commercially successful U.S. artist.”

Christy was born in Morgan County, Ohio, and attended early school in Duncan Falls. He then studied in New York at the Art Students League from 1890 to 1891 and then at the National Academy under William Merritt Chase.

Christy first attracted attention with his realistic illustrations and several articles as a combat artist during the Spanish–American War that included the Battle of Las Guasimas, the Battle of El Caney and the Battle of San Juan Hill, published in Scribner’s, Harper’s, and Leslie’s Weekly magazines, and in Collier’s Weekly. Christy gained especial prominence with the series, Men of the Army and Navy, and a portrait of Colonel Roosevelt that appeared on the cover of his Rough Riders series published in Scribner’s. These illustrations propelled Christy to national prominence. From this, he decided to turn away from war and painting men in uniform. Instead, he yearned for beauty and created the “Christy Girl”, redefining the portrayal of women in America through his illustrations and portraits.

After his famous WWI recruiting posters, Christy soon was illustrating for numerous magazine covers and portraits.

In 1924 Christy painted the official portrait of First Lady Grace Coolidge featuring her white collie Rob Roy, that was hung in the Red Room of the White House and has been displayed in the China Room since the Kennedy administration.

During the Great Depression, Christy found new success as a muralist and painter of historical events. In 1934 he painted a series of female nudes to decorate the Café des Artistes; his studio was in the building. In 1940, he painted the Scene at the Signing of the Constitution of the United States, which was installed in the House of Representatives wing in the United States Capitol.

Christy retired in the 1950s. He died on 3 March 1952 at age 80. His remains are interred in Ferncliff Cemetery and Mausoleum, Hartsdale, New York.